The Network for Public Health Law: Gonorrhea Screenings, HIV and the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force

By Wayne Turner and Jamille Fields

Gonorrhea – it’s not exactly the number one topic of conversation but maybe it should be. Reported incidences of gonorrhea are on the rise, with many more cases going undetected. Even worse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there is an ominous increase in multi-drug resistant strains of this sexually transmitted infection, which do not respond to even powerful antibiotics.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility in both women and men, create dangerous pregnancy complications, and be passed on to newborns. Gonorrhea can also facilitate the transmission of HIV. Gonorrhea disproportionately affects gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as blacks, adolescents, and young adults.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents an important opportunity to help combat gonorrhea and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). The ACA requires new health insurance plans to provide, without out-of-pocket costs, screening and preventive services recommended with an A or B rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). USPSTF grades services with an A or B when recommended with high or moderate certainty that there is a substantial or moderate benefit. The ACA also allows state Medicaid programs to receive a one percent increase in their federal match for covering the USPSTF recommended screenings without charge to enrollees. 

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